Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is a partner in a new Internet outreach program to schools and individuals called "Missouri River Adopt-A-Fish." The program is designed to help youngsters better understand native fish species and the waters where they live.
State and federal fisheries biologists have surgically implanted small radio transmitters in native fish in the Missouri River below Fort Peck Dam. Biologists will track these fish by the electronic beeps that tell them where these paddlefish, blue suckers and shovelnose sturgeon are located in the river.
"Missouri River Adopt-A-Fish" is offering elementary, middle and junior high school students a chance to share in what the biologists are learning about these fish and other fish species that live in the Missouri River. Each classroom can "adopt" two of the fish being tracked, name them, then track where they go during the spring spawning run. Anyone else -- even adults -- can follow the fish over the Internet.
The Missouri River Adopt-A-Fish web site, a cooperative effort between FWP, Walleyes Unlimited of Montana, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Geological Survey and the Billings Gazette, also offers an opportunity to learn about native species, species that were introduced, the Missouri River itself and some history of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and Fort Peck Dam.
The site also offers descriptions of all 45 fish species that live in the Missouri River, fish games and puzzles, and fishing information. Students and visitors can ask questions of a fisheries biologist.
Missouri River Adopt-A-Fish personnel will update the fish positions once a week and share insights about their movements with students and teachers.
FWP is sending out teaching aids to go along with the program. There will also be curriculum information on the Web site to help teachers incorporate the "Missouri River Adopt-A-Fish" program into their lesson plans. There are even some online tests to help measure what students have learned.